Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: Weird, but in a good way

In use

Our Galaxy Note 10+ review unit is the base model, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and 12GB of RAM inside, along with 256GB of internal storage. It’s the same basic configuration found in a host of other premium Android phones, and that’s not a bad thing. While it would’ve been nice to see Samsung use the slightly tweaked 855+ chipset, there’s still more than enough power here to handle everything you could throw at it. It certainly helps that Samsung has dramatically improved its software over the years, and its One UI running on top of Android 9.0 is actually kind of a joy to use.

If you’re the kind to put stock in synthetic benchmarks, then the Note 10+ edged out the Galaxy S10+ and the OnePlus 7 Pro in PCMark and Geekbench. That’s fine and all, but the most important takeaway here is that regardless of who beats who, the level of horsepower available from the Note 10+ certainly won’t leave you wanting.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review

The horsepower here is especially important when you decide to try and use the Note 10+ as a computer. Samsung’s DeX desktop interface isn’t new, but now you don’t have to keep a spare monitor and keyboard on hand. Once you’ve installed a companion app on your Windows or Mac machine, you can plug the Note 10+ in with a USB-C cable to get that full desktop experience… on your desktop.

I know — it seems a bit ridiculous. Samsung thinks people could use it to connect their phone to a public computer and use the DeX interface to get some work done while making sure their personal data stays safe on their own devices. That’s a decent suggestion in theory, but it falls apart in practice. You probably can’t install the necessary software on a computer in, say, your local library. And even if you could, you’ll need even more software to make the most of it. I tested DeX on my work and personal Macs, and I was warned both times that I needed to have Google’s Android File Transfer app installed to move files between my phone and computer. I already did, but Mac owners who have tried using File Transfer on their machines know how finicky it can be.

Once all that’s done, DeX feels surprisingly usable. My MacBook Pro’s keyboard and trackpad worked as expected, and the Note 10+ tapped into the laptop’s speakers without any issue. And once you figure out its quirks, transferring files between phone and computer is actually pretty useful. I’m not going to pretend that these are game-changers. I’m pretty sure most people will never bother using their phones like this. Still, after a touch-and-go setup process, DeX has proven itself to be solid enough in case you ever do need it.